Category Archives: Development

Going, going nearly gone

It’s nearly gone. The sky can be seen, and clear light is in the area. The views are changed. Way over in Hammersmith, the Novotel is visible from West Brompton station.

Earls Court is almost down, and with it our hopes of ever seeing this part of London look as it does are down, too.

With them, all of them, goes part of our identity. It’ll soon be the case that it won’t be enough to say to anyone from abroad that one lives in or near Earls Court, to explain whereabouts one comes from in London – ‘in London’ meaning anywhere from Harrow to Hayes or from Woodford to Weybridge. Too many times one will have to answer something other than simply “London” when one is asked where one’s from. Before too much longer, the understood rider of “Earls Court” will mean nothing at all.

Of course, the developers will be glad to see the back of the unsightly old lady. But will those of us who have lived in its shadow for years be as glad? Would we be as comfortable if we were living with the ‘deconstruction’ of Whitehall or the Houses of Parliament? And yet, people live in their shadow, just they do here, in the shadow of Earls Court.

For now, the illusion lives on. Even on the trains – overground as well as underground – the announcer still advises travellers to ‘alight here for the Earls Court Exhibition Centre’, when there hasn’t been an exhibition at the centre for ages. Indeed, the ‘centre’ hasn’t been there for ages. It’s being ‘deconstructed’.

The developers will be glad to see a a new ‘district’ emerge. But how long will that take? And how many of us want to live in its shadow? The old Earls Court was good enough to entertain many of today’s, and yesterday’s, most popular acts. How many will flock to see who perform at what in the new ‘district’?

Earls Court was a good place to be, years ago. Now it’s becoming the same as anywhere else in London. It never had much of an identity, but now it has even less.

The sky may be clear, but the future – at least round here – is somewhat murky.

 

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Raising the roof

Led Zeppelin. David Bowie. Pink Floyd. Bob Dylan. Genesis. Take That. Kylie Minogue. Even the BRIT Awards.

They’ve all done it at one time or another; metaphorically raised the roof at Earl’s Court.

Now the developers are doing it; quite literally. And they have the temerity to emblazon their hoardings with the slogan: EARLS COURT A new district for London”.

The cheek of it. Earl’s Court has been a London district for generations.

That isn’t all. They contend that they are going to create a new district, when all they are really doing is building a lot of housing for the super-rich and adding on a bit of stuff that will be of use to the local community. It’s a bit like making a luxurious fur coat and finishing it with cheap buttons. The body will keep someone warm, but the whole thing is likely to flap open at any moment, exposing the wearer to the chilliest of winds.

Living, as I do, locally, the whole business fills me with a degree of dread. I dread what will happen to the local community when its prime source of income is gone for good. I dread the noise and disruption once the ‘de-construction’ (Capital & County’s word, not mine) is complete and the new blocks start going up. I dread the style of the new stuff, for it will (no doubt) echo all that’s gone up in London in the last decade or so. And I dread the over-shadowing of what is still an attractive part – or district – of London.

Earl’s Court will never be the same again.

Roof, or no roof.

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